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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 112 - May 2015

May 2015 Newsletter No.112
Thursday 7th May, 5.30pm Faraday / CiS Public Lecture:
'The God of Small Things: Nanotechnology, Creation and God'
Professor Russell Cowburn, FRS
Buckingham Lecture Theatre, Murray Edwards College
Followed by free drinks reception; bookstall available
In this lecture, Professor Russell Cowburn, who is both a nanotechnologist and a Christian, will give an overview of the science and applications of nanotechnology and discuss the ethics and theology of this new technology.
Prof Cowburn explains: "A new industrial revolution is underway in which near-atomic scale engineering is no longer the preserve of advanced research laboratories but is being deployed in real products. Nanotechnology has the potential to offer technical solutions to a wide range of global challenges, including climate change, water scarcity, growing healthcare needs and access to IT of the developing world. Is nanotechnology
therefore a force for good, bringing relief to people in need and shedding further light on what it means to be human? Should faith communities embrace it positively? Or is it a threat, offering rival explanations for the origins of life to those presented in religious texts and risking enormous environmental damage should
it ever escape from our control?"
Upcoming Events - May
7th May Public Lecture, Prof Russell Cowburn
12th May Research Seminar, Prof Andrew Briggs
26th May Research Seminar, Prof Neil Messer
Looking Ahead
4th - 7th June
Faraday Course in Guatemala
5th - 10th July
Faraday Summer Course ‘Science or Religion: Do we have to choose?'
Book before 5th June to be sure of your place. 

Who are we?
Research Seminars
Don't miss the final two Research Seminars of this academic year :
Tuesday May 12th, 1pm, Professor Andrew Briggs (Oxford) on 'The Penultimate Curiosity'
What lies at the root of the long entanglement between science and religion? Why, throughout the journey of human inquiry from cave painting to quantum physics, have attempts to describe the physical world that we can see been so closely enmeshed with the aspiration to see beyond the rim of the visible world? The struggle to make sense of the world as a whole seems to be an urgent and fundamental requirement in all human societies – an ultimate curiosity that creates a slipstream of interest in which penultimate curiosities about particular aspects of the physical world have (to a greater or lesser extent) been able to swim.
Tuesday May 26th, 1pm, Prof Neil Messer (Winchester) on 'The Ethics of Cognitive Enhancement: A Theological Perspective'
The field of neuroethics covers a spectrum of ethical issues, including, at the practical end of the range, the ethics of cognitive enhancement: the use of technologies such as drugs to enhance the performance of human brains and minds beyond "natural" levels. Broadly speaking, two questions arise: first, can a meaningful distinction be drawn between uses of such technologies for therapy and for enhancement? Second, can their use for enhancement be morally justified? This lecture will survey selected philosophical discussions of these questions and offer a Christian response grounded in a theological account of health, disease and

Both Seminars will take place in the Garden Room, St Edmund's College, Cambridge and will be preceded by a light buffet lunch from 12.30pm.

Faraday out and about in May
Over the coming month, Faraday staff will be taking part in a range of activities at
home and abroad:
Each Sunday in May, Ruth Bancewicz will be speaking in the Reflections slot on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s Sunday Breakfast programme
Rebecca Watson will be at Department of Divinity and Religious Studies, Aberdeen University on 18th and 19th May, giving a seminar on her research on the Sea in Scripture and teaching graduate students. She writes, "This is an opportunity to widen awareness, not just of my project, but of the unusual science-religion methodology, which is innovative in the mainstream of academic biblical studies. It also gives me a chance, by sharing my research, to receive feedback."
Ruth Bancewicz will be speaking on ‘Beauty, Wonder and Awe in Science & Christianity’ at a retreat week at Lee Abbey, Devon, 18th-22nd May. Click here
for further details and 10% off booking.
Hilary Marlow will be taking an Adult Education class at the New London Synagogue on 10th May, on 'Why Care for Creation? Biblical Perspectives on the Environment'.
Lizzie Coyle will be at the European Leadership Forum in Poland, 30th May-4th June, leading a seminar and showcasing the 'Test of Faith' resources.
Looking further ahead Ruth Bancewicz will be speaking on ‘Wonders of the Living World’ at the BioLogos
Conference, Evolution & Christian Faith, Tues 30th June - Thurs 2nd July, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. This conference is open to the general public. Details and booking at

April Update
We've had some very positive feedback from the Science Week events in schools during March and April:
"The children were a captive audience, very enthusiastic and engaged, posing some good questions. Children (and adults) gained a lot from [the speaker’s] thoughtprovoking session. Many of them asked if we could have a return visit." (Primary school assistant head)

"The juxtaposition of science and religion in the setting of Ely Cathedral was masterful. We heard about scientists from across the various disciplines who had deep religious beliefs and [the speaker] was able to engage everyone at a personal level then build up to eloquent, intellectual ponderings. The speaker spoke
intelligently on controversial subjects without a hint of confrontation. It was positive, reaffirming and thought-provoking, generating discussions in class and amongst the pupils." (Secondary school head of science)

Still blogging
In April, Ruth Bancewicz celebrated the 5th anniversary of her blog Science and Belief. This weekly article series, including guest authors and podcasts, will now be taking a new direction to reflect her upcoming project, ‘The Wonders of the Living World’. To find out more, go to
Faraday Regional Courses
Over the next two years, we hope to run a series of regional day courses around the UK. But we can't do it without your help. So would you like to organise a Faraday Day Course in your local area? We will work with you to plan it and help with everything from booking speakers to providing a bookstall. If so contact Faraday Course Director, Hilary Marlow on
Other April news …
The Talks at One meetings at Addenbrooke's Hospital heard from the three speakers, Roger Abbott, Bob White and Alasdair Coles, about their own research and its relationship to faith.
Rodney Holder took part in a Question and Answer session on science and faith at the Papworth group of churches in Caxton on 30th April.
Lizzie Coyle conducted lessons and chapel services for years 7 - 13 at Royal Russell School in Croydon.
Hilary Marlow led discussions on science and faith with interns and staff at the A Rocha field study centre in Portugal.